The city is creating a permanent public health outreach network, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday, drawing on the corps of contact tracers used to track COVID-19 infections around the city.
The new $235 million program is part of an effort first announced a year ago to make the city a center of public health research.
The new NYC Public Health Corps will link residents with health services and work with local community nonprofits to provide culturally sensitive care for a range of health issues, such as the flu, chronic diseases and health screenings.
“We built up this extraordinary test and trace apparatus,” de Blasio said at a news conference. “The notion that we would build it up for a crisis, and then when the crisis was over, shut it down, made no sense to me.”
Corps members will coordinate preventative care with city clinic doctors, making home visits to consult with patients on their health habits.
The corps will number more than 500 by December, said Dr. Dave Chokshi, the city’s health commissioner, but will eventually employ thousands of residents. The training will be assisted by a $35 million grant the city recently received from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The new corps comes as the original testing staff has hit 1 million people contacted based on close exposure to COVID-19.
De Blasio also said that the city has selected Columbia University to host a new Pandemic Response Institute, funded in part by a $20 million grant from the city.